Author Topic: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis  (Read 30106 times)

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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #135 on: April 29, 2017, 03:54:48 PM »
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I’ve read your “Murder” chapter and I find it difficult to respond in a constructive manner since it is clear we have very, very different views on things. I’d like to stick to alot of questions so that maybe you can enlighten me on your view in certain areas.

Your contention that Sue and Lost Girl are dead raises alot of questions. To begin with: it seems to me they have to be dead from the beginning of IE for we never see them literally murdered (the Dern character only as part of the script). And if they are dead than what is the purpose of the events unfolding the way we see them?

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What Billy sees in the other room is probably Smithy's dead body. Smithy, Sue's husband, was aware of the affair and had threatened Billy's life. [10] Sue apparently decided to take pre-emptive action.

I admit that it’s rather difficult to make sense out of this: “Look into the other room.” You state that it’s probably Smithy’s dead body and that Sue killed him. That’s quite a stretch. We actually do see Billy / Devon looking into (another) room when he looks through the window and can’t see Sue. Remember that it’s not Smithy we see lying dead, but a Piotrek / Smithy look-a-like in Old Poland. I don’t see any evidence that Sue / the Dern character killed her husband unless you take the stories the southern accent Dern tells literally. We have to ask ourselves whether we can trust anything we see since we are dealing with a highly unreliable narration. It seems to me that you take the murders literally and you argumented the motive for each murder. But if these murders indeed took place literally than what story do they tell according to you? They take place in different time frames.

You state that the Woman in White, the wife of Moustache Man, is Doris Side. I find this unconvincing. There is a reason why Lynch doesn’t show her face and makes such a fuss about it with the girl asking directly to the camera: “Who is she?” Furthermore, we see Doris Side at one point being married to Billy Side. So…which is it?

What do you think is the significance of this infertillity we hear this Woman in White and Smithy talk about?

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and that the contemporary Smithy is definitely not fertile.

If he’s not fertile than how is it we see him coming home to Lost Girl with his son? We know this because this boy is listed in the credits as “Smithy’s son.”

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So Lost Girl killed Smithy's wife out of jealousy ("this wicked dream that has seized my heart"). And the Phantom killed Smithy. At the same time.

You’ve lost me here. Lost Girl kills Julia Ormond, but we don’t know who the wife of Old Poland Smithy is. I agree it seems pretty clear that the Phantom killed Old Poland Smithy.

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You've probably noticed by now that the murders in Old Poland and the murders in the contemporary Inland Empire are rather similar. Hopefully you've also noticed that the characters are, too. Here's a chart that describes the parallels:

I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. In Old Poland we see two murders (one cheater, Smithy lookalike, and Julia Ormond) and in contemporary Hollywood we only see one (and a scripted one at that). Yes, there are certainly connections, but I do not see any parallels. On a narrative level the murder of Sue is committed by Doris Side due to her cheating with her husband Billy, but…Dern isn’t really murdered is she? The only common thread in these three murders I can see is the REASON why they are murdered; infidellity. Well, and the screwdriver of course. What do you think is the meaning behind the screwdriver?

When you take the murders literally as if they really happen then you do run into problems such as Doris Side killing Dern on the Walk of Fame and Smithy returning to Lost Girl at the end.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #136 on: April 29, 2017, 04:24:45 PM »
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Have you read to the end of my analysis? It doesn't make full sense until you've read at least through Part 3. Most of these questions are answered there.

I admit that it’s rather difficult to make sense out of this: “Look into the other room.” You state that it’s probably Smithy’s dead body and that Sue killed him. That’s quite a stretch. We actually do see Billy / Devon looking into (another) room when he looks through the window and can’t see Sue. Remember that it’s not Smithy we see lying dead, but a Piotrek / Smithy look-a-like in Old Poland. I don’t see any evidence that Sue / the Dern character killed her husband unless you take the stories the southern accent Dern tells literally. We have to ask ourselves whether we can trust anything we see since we are dealing with a highly unreliable narration. It seems to me that you take the murders literally and you argumented the motive for each murder. But if these murders indeed took place literally than what story do they tell according to you? They take place in different time frames.

I actually mostly agree — We can't be sure that Sue killed her husband. That is not necessarily one of the important murders. (And I only mentioned it in passing.)

The most important murders, for sure, are Lost Girl killing Smithy's wife (Old Poland) and Doris killing Sue (Inland Empire). The tragic lovers also die in each case, assuming we take at face value Billy dying in "More Things That Happened." Those are less important than Lost Girl being a murderer, and Sue getting murdered.

Less important still is Smithy being murdered in Inland Empire. In fact, it's a paradox — either Smithy kills Billy, or Sue kills Smithy and then tells Billy. Maybe we're supposed to believe that both happened, in a cosmic sense, or that either one could have happened.

You state that the Woman in White, the wife of Moustache Man, is Doris Side. I find this unconvincing. There is a reason why Lynch doesn’t show her face and makes such a fuss about it with the girl asking directly to the camera: “Who is she?”

Lynch has her back turned to us at first, but then a split second later he DOES show her face — Julia Ormond's face — flashing over the murdered body. It's definitely her. You can tell even without that massive hint — her hair and her body shape are the same.

Furthermore, we see Doris Side at one point being married to Billy Side. So…which is it?

It's both. Doris is married to Billy in Inland Empire, but she's married to Smithy in Old Poland. She is yet another repeated character.

What do you think is the significance of this infertillity we hear this Woman in White and Smithy talk about?

It's another thing that repeats — Smithy is infertile in Inland Empire. It's also a thematic signal that their relationship is dysfunctional and unsatisfying.

If he’s not fertile than how is it we see him coming home to Lost Girl with his son? We know this because this boy is listed in the credits as “Smithy’s son.”

Because that's taking place in the afterlife.
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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #137 on: April 29, 2017, 05:23:16 PM »
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Just a quick response for now, it’s getting late over here.

Yes, I’ve read your analysis, but I would like to get through it step by step. I must admit I haven’t checked off all the questions I have before I posted it, so it would be more helpful when I do that from now on.
 
You state that it’s not important if Sue killed her husband or not. If she has not killed him than what is the fuction of her fantasy of Nikki Grace? What “sin” does she have to attone in order to “reach the palace”?

You state that Lost Girl is a murderer and therefor finds herself in purgatory. Yet…we see Doris Side in contemporary Inland Empire killing Dern. WHY do we see these characters played by the same actres(ses)? Lost Girl is freed by Dern from this purgatory. What exactly does this embrace entail according to you? How is it that Lost Girl can leave this purgatory after this embrace?

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Lynch has her back turned to us at first, but then a split second later he DOES show her face — Julia Ormond's face — flashing over the murdered body. It's definitely her. You can tell even without that massive hint — her hair and her body shape are the same.

I’m sorry, still not convinced. We see the face of the murdered woman and not that of the Woman in White. It’s tempting to make the connection, but we cannot trust what we see. This doesn’t explain WHY Lynch has this woman with her back to the camera. It’s rather TOO obvious wouldn’t you say: a girl asking towards the camera “Who is she?” and the following scene exposing who she is. Another pertinent question is of course: who does this girl talk to?

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Because that's taking place in the afterlife.

True, but that doesn’t explain it, it only makes it possible. WHY does Smithy have a son in this scene? In fact we see a boy two times before; with Smithy in bed and with Doris and Billy Side when he’s ill. What do you think is the connection between them (if any)?


Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #138 on: April 29, 2017, 05:44:39 PM »
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You state that it’s not important if Sue killed her husband or not. If she has not killed him than what is the fuction of her fantasy of Nikki Grace? What “sin” does she have to attone in order to “reach the palace”?

Like I say in Part 2, Sue inherits Lost Girl's debt. This happens because their souls are connected. And they may be even less distinguishable than that.

You state that Lost Girl is a murderer and therefor finds herself in purgatory. Yet…we see Doris Side in contemporary Inland Empire killing Dern. WHY do we see these characters played by the same actres(ses)?

I covered the repeated characters, and the Sue / Lost Girl connection, in the analysis and in my responses here. I'm not sure what you're asking. The same actors are used to illustrate reincarnation.

We see the face of the murdered woman and not that of the Woman in White. It’s tempting to make the connection, but we cannot trust what we see. This doesn’t explain WHY Lynch has this woman with her back to the camera. It’s rather TOO obvious wouldn’t you say: a girl asking towards the camera “Who is she?” and the following scene exposing who she is. Another pertinent question is of course: who does this girl talk to?

I think you're stretching here to break connections that are obvious in the film. I urge you to revisit that whole sequence and storyline.

I'm not worried about rejecting hints because they are too obvious. That is truly a path to madness.

WHY does Smithy have a son in this scene? In fact we see a boy two times before; with Smithy in bed and with Doris and Billy Side when he’s ill. What do you think is the connection between them (if any)?

Not sure. This is a great question and one worth examining on rewatch.

My default position is that this is the family Lost Girl and Smithy wanted to have together, and in the afterlife that can finally happen. I wonder if there's anything in the movie to further support or to contradict that. Given the context of spiritual triumph when that happens, I think it's a pretty good theory.
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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #139 on: April 30, 2017, 11:12:26 AM »
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The same actors are used to illustrate reincarnation.

What according to you does that accomplish? What is the function of this reincarnation?

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I think you're stretching here to break connections that are obvious in the film. I urge you to revisit that whole sequence and storyline.

I'm not worried about rejecting hints because they are too obvious. That is truly a path to madness.

I admit that the Woman in White could most certainly be Doris Side, but it is by no means a certainty. This assertion is fine, but it doesn´t explain why we see the Woman in White from the back. In fact it truly negates this emphasis that Lynch is putting on her. If you want to see it that way, that´s fine, but somehow it doesn´t jell with me.

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My default position is that this is the family Lost Girl and Smithy wanted to have together, and in the afterlife that can finally happen. I wonder if there's anything in the movie to further support or to contradict that. Given the context of spiritual triumph when that happens, I think it's a pretty good theory.

Admittedly a possibillity. It all depends on one´s own experience and what one WANTS to see in things. I´m guessing you are somewhat into spirituality and hence you look at IE through that lens, while I have different experiences and interests through which I look at things. I must admit that I find it a pretty poetic interpretation. I believe there are some things in the movie that connect to this reunion and other things that I interpret wildly different than you that lead me to interpret this scene in a completely different way. Within your view I think it makes good sense, albeit that I find it rather arbitrary: where does this boy come from?

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #140 on: April 30, 2017, 11:24:35 AM »
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So I’ve read your chapter “The Connection” (between Sue and Lost Girl) right before I’m typing this in order to fill in the possible blanks of understanding I should have with the chapters I deal with now: ‘Un Unpaid Bill” and “Purgatory.” I see now that a couple of questions I had in the previous post are made clear in this following chapter. So I try not the ask silly questions.

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You could say that Sue's debt is the murdering of her husband, her infidelity, and the way she lived her life in general. That's valid, but it's not quite enough. I've concluded that the actual unpaid bill—the debt of real consequence—belongs to Lost Girl. Note that self-defense almost legitimizes the murder of Sue's husband, who was abusive and overtly homicidal. Lost Girl, by contrast, killed someone who was innocent, simply for her own desires. This is the debt.
Sue inherits Lost Girl's debt. This is absolutely consequential and will be explained later.

You state that the debt is of Lost Girl and that’s her murdering Julia Ormond, the wife of her lover. Since Lost Girl is the spiritual part / guide of Sue on the other side, Sue inherits her debt. And you believe this debt is the experience of the real consequence of this action?

Seems pretty plausible, but there are a couple of questions I have. If Sue inherits the debt of Lost Girl, why is she still in purgatory? How did she get into purgatory in the first place? Your suggestion is she probably committed suicide, but we do not see tangible clues to this effect except when Karolina seems to regret the murder she just committed when she kneels down at the stairs.  On the other hand: it IS possible.

You write in regard to Sue: “…and the way she lived her life in general.” Do we actually know HOW she lived her life? We see Sue / Dern changing all the time yet you seem to conclude that Sue is the real character we see and therefor what we see happening to her is real. Yes, these other manifestations of the Dern character do not have a name so therefor the distinction is probably less obvious, but they are just as radical as the one between Nikki Grace and Sue. You state they are different manifestations or reincarnations of the same person (Sue). Fair enough, but what is the function of these different manifestations? I can understand when you say that these different characters played by the same actors are reincarnations reliving past experiences, when their storylines are bottled in. This is not the case with the Dern character for we see her changing character midway plotlines (like changing into this southern accent Dern). Yes we see the Dern character degrading from Nikki Grace to a prostitute on the Walk of Fame, but what evidence do we have she was actually a whore?

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For example, when the Phantom hypnotizes Julia Side, [24] that is symbolic for Julia Side being hypnotized by her own inner evil.

What has Julia Side done that would reflect her own inner evil? She is the one that gets murdered and the murder she herself commits (though Sue isn’t really murdered as we witness when she wakes up on the movieset) hasn’t taken place when we see the Phantom hypnotizing her. How do you square these two opposites: Doris side getting murdered and being a murderer later on?

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Lynch actually shows us Sue's scary clown face earlier in the film, when Sue runs at the camera in full homicidal "I'm killing my husband" mode.

So…did Sue kill her husband or didn´t she? If she did not than what does the blood on her hands in this scene represent? If she did than why isn´t she in purgatory?
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We know that the purgatory does not literally exist on earth, that Lost Girl is dead when she is confined within it, and that Sue is dead when she arrives there

Well, we don’t know that. This is an assumption that you make. It’s a solid interpretation in that nothing I can see would contradict that, but there are other possibillities.

You state that the face of The Phantom transforms into a grotesque version of Sue´s face and that this is a reflection of her evil. So…do you think that when for instance Doris Side or Karolina had shot The Phantom their own face would appear? Is it specifically connected to the one who shoots him? And can he only be killed once?

Why does Sue encounter the Phantom in the vaccinity of Room 47? Why has Piotrek put the pistol in that drawer where Sue gets it from?

You talk about the old tale Visitor #1 tells. Indeed it´s a pretty important clue as to what´s going on. I believe as you so rightly note that it´s pretty obvious that The Phantom is this `evil` that was born and follows the boy. But who is this little boy she is talking about? And what is this doorway? I´m not convinced the interpretation of this tale is of crucial importance, but it is a helpful one.

As you can see again a lot of questions. I must say I´m enjoying this discussion since it makes me look at the movie from other perspectives.

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #141 on: April 30, 2017, 12:32:21 PM »
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What according to you does that accomplish? What is the function of this reincarnation?

I guess that's a big theological question, but basically it seems that reincarnation would allow one person/soul to gain more experience and understanding, leading to further and further enlightenment. That certainly happens in Inland Empire with Sue and Lost Girl, and I'm sure it's happening with the other characters to some degree. (If only the film were 5 hours long, all of that could be covered.)


I admit that the Woman in White could most certainly be Doris Side, but it is by no means a certainty.

If you're looking for certainty in Inland Empire, you've come to the wrong movie.


It all depends on one´s own experience and what one WANTS to see in things. I´m guessing you are somewhat into spirituality and hence you look at IE through that lens, while I have different experiences and interests through which I look at things.

To be fair, Inland Empire is viewed by nearly everyone as a spiritual movie to some degree. I am not coming at it from a controversial angle. The non-spiritual interpretation is the outlier — and it's very difficult to make that argument, because you would need to somehow controvert so much of what we see the movie.


Within your view I think it makes good sense, albeit that I find it rather arbitrary: where does this boy come from?

You've definitely inspired me to revisit the boy. I'll watch closely and report back sometime soon.


If Sue inherits the debt of Lost Girl, why is she still in purgatory? How did she get into purgatory in the first place? Your suggestion is she probably committed suicide, but we do not see tangible clues to this effect except when Karolina seems to regret the murder she just committed when she kneels down at the stairs.

Suicide is total speculation, and I tried to characterize it as such. As for "why is she still in purgatory," I'm not sure who the "she" is in your question. Neither Lost Girl nor Sue remain in the purgatory. Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy, and Sue moves on to the room (the palace?) we see in the end credits.


You write in regard to Sue: “…and the way she lived her life in general.” Do we actually know HOW she lived her life? We see Sue / Dern changing all the time yet you seem to conclude that Sue is the real character we see and therefor what we see happening to her is real. Yes, these other manifestations of the Dern character do not have a name so therefor the distinction is probably less obvious, but they are just as radical as the one between Nikki Grace and Sue.

Strongly disagree with your last point. I will keep an open mind on rewatch, but I don't see enough distinctions between the manifestations of Sue to view them as separate from each other. The difference between Nikki Grace and Sue is extreme by comparison.


Yes we see the Dern character degrading from Nikki Grace to a prostitute on the Walk of Fame, but what evidence do we have she was actually a whore?

I don't believe Sue or Lost Girl are ever literal prostitutes. I would just reiterate what I wrote in Part 4:

In the scene that follows, we see Lost Girl brought into a hotel room and treated like a prostitute by a mysterious man who is neither the Phantom nor Smithy. I believe this scene is figurative and that its purpose is to establish what I call "the prostitute state." After all, this is another connection—Sue and Lost Girl are both made to feel like prostitutes by the abusive men in their lives. (Sue even cries out "I'm a whore!" in one of her late scenes.) While they are definitely not literal prostitutes, they do cheat, and thus they sink into the prostitute state, which leads to self-loathing and spiritual desolation.


What has Julia Side done that would reflect her own inner evil? She is the one that gets murdered and the murder she herself commits (though Sue isn’t really murdered as we witness when she wakes up on the movieset) hasn’t taken place when we see the Phantom hypnotizing her.

I think there's a little evil in all of us. In Inland Empire's theological view, everyone would have to defeat their own inner evil to one degree or another.


How do you square these two opposites: Doris side getting murdered and being a murderer later on?

I mean, this goes back to the absolute core of my interpretation. Is it not clear? These two events happen in two entirely different places, times, and LIFETIMES. The Doris in Inland Empire and the Doris in Old Poland are different incarnations of the same soul.


So…did Sue kill her husband or didn´t she?

We don't know. And we're probably not going to know. That paradox that I described is really beautiful, actually — Lynch is forcing us to accept this permanent mystery.


Well, we don’t know that. This is an assumption that you make. It’s a solid interpretation in that nothing I can see would contradict that, but there are other possibillities.

Right, nothing is absolutely certain. That's fine. As such, I prefer to go with the theories that have evidence to support them. That seems like the most sane way to approach the movie.


You state that the face of The Phantom transforms into a grotesque version of Sue´s face and that this is a reflection of her evil. So…do you think that when for instance Doris Side or Karolina had shot The Phantom their own face would appear? Is it specifically connected to the one who shoots him? And can he only be killed once?

I would just be guessing, but I suppose I would guess that everyone that takes a path like Sue's has to kill their own version of the phantom. He may not appear as that man for other people, but I think he would show them a grotesque reflection in a similar way.

I would also guess that Lost Girl went straight to purgatory. It was Sue's role to defeat the phantom, not hers.


Why has Piotrek put the pistol in that drawer where Sue gets it from?

The mediums in New Poland give him the phantom-killing gun. I assume they told him to put the gun there. Then later, the projectionist in the theater (likely Mr. K) shows Sue the location of this gun.


You talk about the old tale Visitor #1 tells. Indeed it´s a pretty important clue as to what´s going on. I believe as you so rightly note that it´s pretty obvious that The Phantom is this `evil` that was born and follows the boy. But who is this little boy she is talking about? And what is this doorway? I´m not convinced the interpretation of this tale is of crucial importance, but it is a helpful one.

Agreed. I'm not even totally convinced of my interpretation of "the old tale" (because it's so cryptic), and I'm not convinced that all of it is crucially important.

As for "Evil was born and followed the boy" ... My best guess translation: The Phantom followed Smithy to his second life. (And then killed him.) This would make Smithy the boy.

"As he passed through the doorway" ... This part obviously has spiritual meaning — going through the doorway could mean dying/crossing over or reincarnating. (I lean towards reincarnating.)
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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #142 on: April 30, 2017, 05:54:42 PM »
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Okay, so just a quick response for now.
 
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To be fair, Inland Empire is viewed by nearly everyone as a spiritual movie to some degree. I am not coming at it from a controversial angle. The non-spiritual interpretation is the outlier — and it's very difficult to make that argument, because you would need to somehow controvert so much of what we see the movie.

Well, I personally have never encountered such a spiritual approach to IE. I just find it interesting to see it from a perspective I´ve never encountered before. Whether it´s controversial or not isn´t the issue, since the arguments should determine one´s case. I guess several if not many interpretations are possible; it all depends on like I said one’s personal viewpoints in life. I assure you; non-spiritual interpretations are pretty easy to make and some are very consistent. I’ve read some way way out there interpretations indeed, but also some that really do make alot of sense. That’s the beauty of this movie and Lynch’s work in general; people see what they want to see in it like in abstract paintings. In order for an interpretation to be taken seriously one has to indeed be coherent and make some sense of course. So far as I have read and understood your analysis I think it’s pretty solid and it seems pretty plausible to me. That said I do believe that one can hold interpretations to certain degrees and determine the inherent relevance of connections to each other and within the whole, but in the final analysis when it comes to surrealism it all boils down to personal preference.

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Suicide is total speculation, and I tried to characterize it as such. As for "why is she still in purgatory," I'm not sure who the "she" is in your question. Neither Lost Girl nor Sue remain in the purgatory. Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy, and Sue moves on to the room (the palace?) we see in the end credits.

What I meant by “Why is Lost Girl still in purgatory” is that since she has no longer the debt to pay (this is inherited by Sue) why is she still there? Well, perhaps the debt must be paid no matter who pays it. So Sue goes through these hardships and frees Lost Girl by the embrace. But…do you think Doris Side REALLY kills Sue on the Walk of Fame? If so what do you think is the relevance of the camera pulling back and the viewer witnessing it was “part of the script”?

You state that Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy and you mentioned earlier that you believe this to be a lovely fantasy of Lost Girl in the hereafter. Now…where exactly does this fantasy begin? Right after the embrace we see Lost Girl frantically running through the hallway and desperately searching for the front door through wich we see Smithy and son appear. Is the running of Lost Girl also part of this fantasy?
 
We see this reunion taking place in the same house as we have seen Sue and Smithy. What do you think is the significance of this?

Indeed we see Sue sitting in that room in the end. Supposing she is dead and in the hereafter, why are the people so joyful? And why is she dressed in a light blue dress?

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. The difference between Nikki Grace and Sue is extreme by comparison.

It is of course a real stark difference, all the more since we witness such an emphasis on the difference (with Sue being trapped in Smithy’s house). The differences between the other “Sues” are more subtle. For instance: the Sue we witness in Smithy’s house wears often colourful, light clothes, while the Sue with Mr. K wears dark clothes. The Sue with Mr. K is also bruised on the face. Another Sue, also with Mr. K speaks with a southern accent, while another Sue claims she’s a whore on the Walk of Fame. You state that this is all the same person yet we do not see the same bruises in the face other than the Sue with a southern accent. We also see doppelgangers of Sue, or rather Sue sees them. Do you think they are also the same person?

Well, it’s just my observation and it seems you do not share that view. One can look at Sue and conclude that we see her “paying the debt.” It is indeed another way of looking at it.

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After all, this is another connection—Sue and Lost Girl are both made to feel like prostitutes by the abusive men in their lives. (Sue even cries out "I'm a whore!" in one of her late scenes.) While they are definitely not literal prostitutes, they do cheat, and thus they sink into the prostitute state, which leads to self-loathing and spiritual desolation.

Yes, I agree with you that Sue and Lost Girl are not literal prostitutes, although I come to that conclusion since it fits within my overall view. I do not agree with you that the abusive men in their lives are to blame. Afterall it is Lost Girl who is cheating herself. We never see Sue actually cheating. Yes she gets hit by Smithy in some late scene, but we don’t know what’s going on (on a narrative level). So why would Sue become a whore?
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I think there's a little evil in all of us. In Inland Empire's theological view, everyone would have to defeat their own inner evil to one degree or another.

Well, I would imagine there’s also a little good in all of us; wouldn’t that mean a straight pass to heaven? So since Julia Side has murdered Sue she is also in purgatory? But how can she be guilty when she is hypnotized by the Phantom and ordered to kill Sue? We know that she is told by him to murder someone, since she says so in the scene at the police station. Speaking of which: why does she have this screwdriver in her belly?

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These two events happen in two entirely different places, times, and LIFETIMES. The Doris in Inland Empire and the Doris in Old Poland are different incarnations of the same soul.

I can understand the reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl depicted in IE, but why should Lynch bother to depict reincarnations of other characters when they have no role to play in the movie? Why couldn’t cast Lynch just random actors when the reincarnation issue doesn’t play a role regarding these other characters?

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We don't know. And we're probably not going to know. That paradox that I described is really beautiful, actually — Lynch is forcing us to accept this permanent mystery.

So where does the blood on her hands come from?

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I would also guess that Lost Girl went straight to purgatory. It was Sue's role to defeat the phantom, not hers.

But does Sue know that? And does Lost Girl know that she is dependent on Sue?

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The mediums in New Poland give him the phantom-killing gun. I assume they told him to put the gun there. Then later, the projectionist in the theater (likely Mr. K) shows Sue the location of this gun.

Check. I also assume that these old men directed Smithy towards this location. I don’t think however that Mr K shows Sue the location. We only see him looking at Sue and then going up the stairs. Sue simply follows him and ends up in this maze of corridors and doors. In fact, I don’t see anybody directing Sue to this location, she simply finds it on her own.

I would like to continue this discussion, but tomorrow is monday and this week I’m pretty busy at work. I guess it will be friday or saturday when I will be able to continue. In the mean time I will ponder over your feedback and will read the last part of your analysis attentively.


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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #143 on: April 30, 2017, 06:58:55 PM »
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What I meant by “Why is Lost Girl still in purgatory” is that since she has no longer the debt to pay (this is inherited by Sue) why is she still there? Well, perhaps the debt must be paid no matter who pays it. So Sue goes through these hardships and frees Lost Girl by the embrace.

Yes, essentially. I think they share the debt. I probably should not have used the word "inherit" (note to self). Because, you're right, Lost Girl is also paying the debt in her current role.


But…do you think Doris Side REALLY kills Sue on the Walk of Fame? If so what do you think is the relevance of the camera pulling back and the viewer witnessing it was “part of the script”?

I believe that Doris killed Sue, and that Sue is reliving that memory, play acting her death that happened long ago. What we see on screen might be part of the original, or the memory, or both, or maybe it doesn't matter. Either way, the fact that this is a memory is crucially important.

The words "remember" or "memory" are in the film so many times (maybe I should count). Definitely far more than "dream." I think Lynch is trying to tell us something.


You state that Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy and you mentioned earlier that you believe this to be a lovely fantasy of Lost Girl in the hereafter.

No, I don't believe that Lost Girl is experiencing any fantasy. Sue is. Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife. I think in this afterlife, she can have what she wants — domestic bliss with her true love, a son, etc.


We see this reunion taking place in the same house as we have seen Sue and Smithy. What do you think is the significance of this?

That's an interesting question. Not sure it has huge meaning aside from drawing parallels between Lost Girl and Sue. Lynch interchanging them in that scene is certainly a big hint that they are somewhat, you know, interchangeable.


Indeed we see Sue sitting in that room in the end. Supposing she is dead and in the hereafter, why are the people so joyful?

Because it's heaven.


For instance: the Sue we witness in Smithy’s house wears often colourful, light clothes, while the Sue with Mr. K wears dark clothes. The Sue with Mr. K is also bruised on the face. Another Sue, also with Mr. K speaks with a southern accent

I'm sure there were thematic intentions with the wardrobe choices, and that's meaningful, but I don't think it's going to unlock any secrets. I don't think Sue wearing different clothing makes her a different Sue. People change clothes. People get bruises.

The bruise on her face does add some weight to that scene, though, given that she's talking about domestic violence.

I am currently browsing through the movie, trying to find the Sue you're talking about who doesn't have a Southern accent. For the life of me I can't find it. Sue has a Southern accent in every scene that I'm seeing. If you could point me to a time, I will check it out.


while another Sue claims she’s a whore on the Walk of Fame.

We don't need to take that literally. If I heard a woman scream "I'm a whore!" in existential agony, I would not think she is literally identifying herself as a prostitute. It's an expression of her internal torment in that moment.


We never see Sue actually cheating.

We see Sue having sex with Billy at 58 min. Smithy walks in and witnesses her cheating. This is also when the Nikki Grace fantasy is actively collapsing.


So since Julia Side has murdered Sue she is also in purgatory? But how can she be guilty when she is hypnotized by the Phantom and ordered to kill Sue?

Not sure what you're responding to — I didn't say that. I don't know where Doris goes when she dies.


We know that she is told by him to murder someone, since she says so in the scene at the police station. Speaking of which: why does she have this screwdriver in her belly?

I assume that indicates her having been stabbed just like that in her previous life, like I've been saying.


I can understand the reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl depicted in IE, but why should Lynch bother to depict reincarnations of other characters when they have no role to play in the movie? Why couldn’t cast Lynch just random actors when the reincarnation issue doesn’t play a role regarding these other characters?

No role? Not sure how to respond to this. It seems perfectly logical to include them in the reincarnations, since those actors are repeated too. I fully believe these other characters could be on their own paths of spiritual progress. I have no idea why you would exclude them from that. Why not just follow the movie's logic?
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #144 on: April 30, 2017, 07:16:58 PM »
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Here are screen caps of Doris and the murdered woman. They are both Julia Ormond. You can tell by her nose in particular.
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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #145 on: May 01, 2017, 06:00:42 PM »
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It seems I got off from work earlier than I expected so let me see if I can make some sense this late in the evening.

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I believe that Doris killed Sue, and that Sue is reliving that memory, play acting her death that happened long ago. What we see on screen might be part of the original, or the memory, or both, or maybe it doesn't matter. Either way, the fact that this is a memory is crucially important.

So according to you Sue is already dead at the beginning of IE? You believe the murder of Sue on the Walk of Fame is a memory of hers. Now where does this memory begin and where does it end?

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No, I don't believe that Lost Girl is experiencing any fantasy. Sue is. Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife. I think in this afterlife, she can have what she wants — domestic bliss with her true love, a son, etc

Since Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife how can she show Sue her past life? How can she guide Sue by telling her for instance about the silk when she is confined to purgatory?

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Because it's heaven.

What do you think is the significance of the woman beside Dern on the couch in that scene? Why do we see Rita from Mulholland Dr there and why does she show the watch on the arm on the man next to her? Why do we see a woodsman sawing a log? And what is the significance (if any) of Ben Harper on the piano?

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The bruise on her face does add some weight to that scene, though, given that she's talking about domestic violence.

I am currently browsing through the movie, trying to find the Sue you're talking about who doesn't have a Southern accent.

We get to see this bruised Dern with Mr K for the first time right after the scene where the Phantom hits Karolina. We see Dern bruised, but not Karolina / Lost Girl.
I have to admit that I’m not sure about a Dern with Mr K speaking without a southern accent; I have to check that myself also. I could have sworn that was the case, but then the mind can play dirty tricks on you. It’s been quite a while since I have seen IE, so perhaps this weekend I will endulge myself again in this gem.

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We don't need to take that literally. If I heard a woman scream "I'm a whore!" in existential agony, I would not think she is literally identifying herself as a prostitute. It's an expression of her internal torment in that moment.

Sure, I also said “she claims to be a whore.” I take this scene metaphorically, like I take just about everything in IE as such. Though I do think that Dern at that moment literally claims to be a whore I view this symbolically.

You state that Sue is reliving her own death in her memory. Does this mean that the murder we see actually happened that way? If so than Sue must indeed have been a whore. If it did not actually happen that way than why does she imagine it did?

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We see Sue having sex with Billy at 58 min. Smithy walks in and witnesses her cheating. This is also when the Nikki Grace fantasy is actively collapsing.

I have to rewatch this scene again, but I do distinctly remember that in this scene Dern actually thinks she’s Nikki and having sex with Devon, while Devon claims he’s Billy and calling her Sue. That’s why Dern is so mad at him at the end of the scene.

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I assume that indicates her having been stabbed just like that in her previous life, like I've been saying.

Don’t you think that’s quite a coincidence? Or does the Doris Side in contemporary IE know about this screwdriver? Remember that it’s Dern herself who got the screwdriver, so it wasn’t a conscious choice of weapon by Doris. What is the connection between these two screwdrivers? And WHY a screwdriver in the first place?

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It seems perfectly logical to include them in the reincarnations, since those actors are repeated too.

But that’s like calling the chicken an egg. If these actors were NOT repeated one wouldn’t have had to include them in the reincarnations. The question is: WHY use these same actors when their reincarnation isn’t important to the story in anyway?

And finally about Julia Ormond. Yes, she is the dead woman most definitely. No doubt about it. The question is who is this Woman in White and WHY do we not see her face?

Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #146 on: May 01, 2017, 06:06:44 PM »
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Let’s take a look at your chapter “The Connection.”

We have talked about your view on Sue and Lost Girl as soul mates and that you take the view of Lost Girl guiding Sue. Some things I will skip because you’ve clearified it for me already.

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Even those who might have a radically different interpretation than my own will acknowledge the existence of many scenes which must take place in some kind of afterlife.

We sometimes have blinders on and we don’t notice it. I’ve caught myself many times thinking that some things had to be obvious until I learned other ways of looking at things. Often it is not easy to abandon your own comfortable way of looking at things or indeed doing things and learn to adapt brand new ways. Sometimes ego or pride can be a real hurdle too. Like I’ve said I’ve seen several pretty good and consistent interpretations: all very different in themes and structure. One can interpret IE without considering the afterlife or supernatural elements. It’s a matter of subjective experience and personal preference.

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"Half-born" can only mean a limited number of things. Actually, it can only mean one thing—that Sue was half-born.

The problem is that Visitor #1 doesn’t say that the little girl is half-born. She says “…AS IF half-born.” Yes, the old Polish people say to Piotrek that Nikki is half-born, but aren’t they part of the Nikki Grace fantasy? We find duality in so many things in IE that it’s hard to connect this phrase to a specific element or indeed to one thing.

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That song belongs to Lost Girl, who is in fact the unborn half who watches the born half through her purgatory television.

Why is Lost Girl the “unborn half”? She has been born, but died and sits in purgatory. How is she “unborn”? Sue according to you is also already dead, so why isn’t she in purgatory?

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She "guards" Sue by creating or co-creating the comfort-blanket Nikki Grace fantasy (which reimagines Sue's life as that of a happy, successful actress).

Actually, Lost Girl doesn’t co-create the Nikki Grace fantasy. In fact quite the opposite: she is the one who suggests to Sue to fold silk, burn a hole in it and look through it. After Sue does this we arrive in Old Poland for the first time. Lost Girl leads Sue to this Old Polish story in which we see infidellity and murder. Yes she guides Dern in this important instance, but what is protective about this? Does she want to give Sue a look at her own life / affair? Does she want Sue to suffer and pay the unpaid bill so that she can be freed from purgatory?

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This is a pretty remarkable moment of exposition for Lynch. If you had any doubt about this connection, that should take care of it. (I just wish we could hear everything they whispered.)

Even if Dern acts this like she is looking at herself doesn’t neccesarily mean that Lost Girl is her “soulmate.” It could be, but there are other possibillities.

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If she's not only guiding but is also "in partnership" with a spirit guide, who is this spirit guide? Well, make that plural, because we're talking about the prostitutes.

Why should Lost Girl be in “partnership” with a spirit guide? Do you think the prostitutes have good intentions?  Yes, Sue eventually gets on the other side, but only through reliving her own horrible death. This is the way to pay the unpaid bill? Hmmm, sounds rather Christian to me.

You interpret the running of the two prostitutes in the hallway as blissful. It seems to me that they are running away and are rather scared. Just like they did when Dern got murdered on the Walk of Fame.

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Remember the stunning parallels between Old Poland characters and contemporary Inland Empire characters?

It seems to me that we are dealing with a third time frame and that is somewhere in the sixties, early seventies. Looking at the clothes of Sue in Smithy’s house along with the furniture this definitely has the style of that period.

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Let's review. Lost Girl lives a tragic life, makes some pretty horrible mistakes, and ends up dead in purgatory. She watches and acts in a guiding capacity [44] as her soulmate (Sue) lives out a very similar existence, dies, struggles badly to return, and then finally does, destroying their shared inner-evil. The unpaid bill has been paid. They accomplish this—albeit in a certain involuntary manner—as a kind of spiritual team.

How does Lost Girl know that Sue is her soulmate? Where does Sue live out this similar existence? You state that Sue struggles badly to return. Return to purgatory? Was she already in purgatory before or do you see her as part of Lost Girl and therefor a part of Sue is indeed in purgatory?

Question, questions.

I wanted to ask you Jeremy how you interpret Mulholland Dr? Do you believe there the same actors playing different characters are reincarnations? Just curious.

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #147 on: May 01, 2017, 07:20:12 PM »
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Since Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife how can she show Sue her past life? How can she guide Sue by telling her for instance about the silk when she is confined to purgatory?

I gotta say I'm concerned about, and kind of exhausted by, your approach. The movie is not a series of answers to a list of questions. We are not going to know how everything works.

^ If you're still asking that question, I'm not sure you're ever going to buy into my interpretation. Spiritual powers work because they are spiritual powers. This is magic.

I am not going to be able to give you a satisfactory explanation for how spiritual powers work. Lost Girl can guide Sue because she has been given that power. It's that simple. There is just no point in getting hung up on something like this.


I have to rewatch this scene again, but I do distinctly remember that in this scene Dern actually thinks she’s Nikki and having sex with Devon, while Devon claims he’s Billy and calling her Sue. That’s why Dern is so mad at him at the end of the scene.

Right... I think that's why we know we're seeing an episode from Sue's life. This is actually probably a good example of reliving. Sue is not yet convinced that she is Sue, but she is inside an experience from Sue's life.


The question is: WHY use these same actors when their reincarnation isn’t important to the story in anyway?

I think Lynch trusts the viewer enough to allow them to make inferences and extrapolations. He does not need to hold our hands and show us a separate story for every reincarnation — we can deduce that they exist.


And finally about Julia Ormond. Yes, she is the dead woman most definitely. No doubt about it. The question is who is this Woman in White and WHY do we not see her face?

There is a possibility that woman with her back to us is someone other than Julia Ormond. But she looks, even from behind, like Julia Ormond. And all other contextual evidence points to it.

Given that there is little or no evidence for an alternative, I don't think I have to prove that it's Julia Ormond. I'm going to accept that as the likely truth without knowing for sure absolutely. That is the only rational way to engage with this movie.


Why is Lost Girl the “unborn half”? She has been born, but died and sits in purgatory. How is she “unborn”? Sue according to you is also already dead, so why isn’t she in purgatory?

I certainly didn't mean she was never born. I wrote "unborn" in that sentence and probably should have used a different word.


Actually, Lost Girl doesn’t co-create the Nikki Grace fantasy. In fact quite the opposite: she is the one who suggests to Sue to fold silk, burn a hole in it and look through it. After Sue does this we arrive in Old Poland for the first time. Lost Girl leads Sue to this Old Polish story in which we see infidellity and murder. Yes she guides Dern in this important instance, but what is protective about this? Does she want to give Sue a look at her own life / affair? Does she want Sue to suffer and pay the unpaid bill so that she can be freed from purgatory?

It's true, my suggestion that Lost Girl co-created the Nikki Grace fantasy doesn't have much evidence for it.

It did feel right to me at the time. Lost Girl is the "half" that is currently in a spiritual realm, so she would have more access to those powers than Sue, who is lost and wandering. More than that, I believed that Lost Girl's strong bond of empathy for Sue might have led her to create a comforting fantasy.

I don't think I believe that anymore, though. When we first see Lost Girl engage with the tape of Sue's experience, the visitor is coming to the door. It's as if Lost Girl has been put here to help bring about Sue's awakening (NOT contribute to the fantasy) and to also guide Sue with empathy and love until they can be re-unified.

By the way, at that moment when Lost Girl's viewing experience begins, we hear this lyric on the soundtrack: "On the other side I see you."


Even if Dern acts this like she is looking at herself doesn’t neccesarily mean that Lost Girl is her “soulmate.” It could be, but there are other possibillities.

What is a more likely alternative?


You interpret the running of the two prostitutes in the hallway as blissful. It seems to me that they are running away and are rather scared.

You should revisit that scene — they are grinning cartoonishly and are clearly very excited. They are happy. Sure there's also a weirdness to it, but that's this movie.


It seems to me that we are dealing with a third time frame and that is somewhere in the sixties, early seventies. Looking at the clothes of Sue in Smithy’s house along with the furniture this definitely has the style of that period.

Remember when Sue says "I lost a bunch of years"? This is from More Things That Happened, referenced in Dream Origin:

"You gotta understand, I was 41 years old in 1960. I'm freaked out about it, cause I lost a bunch of years."
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Erniesam

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #148 on: May 02, 2017, 07:24:45 PM »
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It’s very late over here (just got home from work) so I will keep it brief. Just wanted to comment on your last post.
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The movie is not a series of answers to a list of questions. We are not going to know how everything works.

Maybe you’re right and I am overanylizing. Since we are dealing with surrealism and metaphors there are bound to be elements which will always be hard to make sense of. The main thing is to get a satisfactory overall interpretation that works for you.

 
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Sue is not yet convinced that she is Sue, but she is inside an experience from Sue's life.

Sounds reasonable, So do you think Sue isn’t aware that she’s Sue? Or isn’t she aware that she is reliving a past experience?

About Julia Ormond…yet again. It seems I’m a bit stick on that part, doesn’t it? Anyway my question remains: why do we not see her face in that scene and why does the girl ask straight into the camera: “Who is she?”. It’s just an element in the movie that I think is important otherwise Lynch wouldn’t have put so much emphasis on it. If you do not find this question important than just skip it. There’s so much other stuff to talk about regarding this movie.

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It's as if Lost Girl has been put here to help bring about Sue's awakening (NOT contribute to the fantasy)

This seems very plausible to me since the advise that Lost Girl gives about the silk does bring the Old Polish scenes in play. In these scenes we see Karolina and Smithy (as the Moustache Man). Do you think that Sue can see these scenes or that only Karolina can see them or can they both see these scenes? Your position is that what we see is a reliving of the past of reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl. Sue doesn’t appear in these Polish scenes so would it be of any use for her to be able to see them?

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By the way, at that moment when Lost Girl's viewing experience begins, we hear this lyric on the soundtrack: "On the other side I see you."

Yes, a very poignant clue it is indeed. Clearly Lost Girl and Dern are on opposite sides from each other, but these sides can be interpreted in a number of ways. To stick with your approach: it fits right into your view and makes sense.

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What is a more likely alternative?

That’s not easy to explain; it would mean a whole exposition of my personal view.  A “likely alternative” depends on the nature of the overall view. One interpretation I’ve come across stated that Dern and Lost Girl were old girl friends and just before the latter died they had a fallout of some kind. The theory was that Lost Girl couldn’t go on until Dern had made it up to her. Well, that could make sense, but it all depends on how it fits the overall view. To coin a IE-phrase: regarding their relation “there’s an ocean of possibillities.”  In your overall view there is not a more likely alternative, but depending on one’s view there could be more likely alternatives out there.

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You should revisit that scene — they are grinning cartoonishly and are clearly very excited. They are happy. Sure there's also a weirdness to it, but that's this movie.

It’s very difficult to come to a consensus when the interpretation of one image is concerned. You see blissfulness, I see anxiety. Do you know what the expression on the face of the girl on the left reminds me of? Of the clownish smile we have seen on Dern twice and on the clownsface itself. But…maybe I’m seeing things.

How do you interpret LH and MD? Also along similar lines as you do IE? I think it is inevitable that we tap out of our own experiences in order to interpret these movies. I know that I do anyway: in all three I see a similar pattern and structure. How do you interpret the same actors playing different roles in these other two movies?

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
« Reply #149 on: May 03, 2017, 02:51:56 PM »
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Sue doesn’t appear in these Polish scenes so would it be of any use for her to be able to see them?

I think it expands on Lost Girl & Sue's symbiotic relationship. Lost Girl is being shown Sue's experience. Lost Girl then shows part of her life experience to Sue to more fully form that connection. Perhaps they are scenes that Sue can especially relate to. It's getting Sue to realize that there is someone out there who is deeply connected to her and guiding her to some degree. I think this helps make Sue aware her aware of that guidance, and of that pull. She is constantly being pulled toward something.

How do you interpret LH and MD? Also along similar lines as you do IE? I think it is inevitable that we tap out of our own experiences in order to interpret these movies. I know that I do anyway: in all three I see a similar pattern and structure. How do you interpret the same actors playing different roles in these other two movies?

I did make a theory for Mulholland Drive here:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=1285.msg123289#msg123289

I've since come closer to the conventional explanation. Still not sure who is actually having the dream, though... that still nags at me. I talk about that here:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=1285.msg331397#msg331397
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